All Aboard!

By the Shores of Silver Lake

Out of college, my husband taught in a private Christian school for seven years.  We loved ministering to the high school kids and living in Kansas.  They were formational years to our Christian life. Of course, we often joked that the three best things about teaching were June, July and August, but we loved working with teens the most.

When my husband went into the computer industry, he had the typical vacation schedule with only two weeks off.

Box T 1997

At the same time, he began teaching the Bible every summer for two weeks at  Box T Bible and Saddle Camp run by Florence and Lewellyn Tewksbury in the middle of North Dakota.  We loved the teen ministry and didn’t mind having no time off.  Our ministry together was our family vacation.

However, driving from North Dakota to Montana to visit my parents each year with a car full of little children and no husband was a challenge.  We found help one year when we bought a Disney video and it came with an Amtrak coupon for buy one adult fair, get one child for free.  The baby was free, the middle children were half fare, so we had a deal. 

I  took the train for the first time in my life.

It was an exciting adventure, even if we couldn’t afford the sleeper car, and even if it ended up taking longer than driving.  They placed us in a smaller handicapped room with two seats that faced each other.  I had a cooler of snacks and a huge bag of books and new toys.  My favorite memory was reading Ransom of Red Chief by O.Henry aloud. I think I was more excited than my kids.

North Dakota 295(pics from Ritzville, WA train depot and museum)

The Ingalls’ didn’t quite share my enthusiasm for taking a train when Ma and the girls moved by train from Plum Creek to Dakota Territory. There were too many unknowns for them.

p. 6  Pa said to Ma, “I’ll go with Docia tomorrow morning…  Nelson’s agreed to haul our stuff to the depot, and you’ll all come out on the train.”

p. 7  “Laura knew, of course, that people did travel on trains.  The trains were often wrecked and the people killed.  She was not exactly afraid, but she was excited.

Ma said in her quiet way, ‘I am sure we will manage nicely with Laura and Carrie to help me.’ ”

 

North Dakota 293

p. 16, “Clean and starched and dressed-up, in the morning of a weekday, they sat in a row on the bench in the waiting room while Ma bought the tickets.”

North Dakota 270

p. 16, “At the ticket window, Ma carefully counted money out of her pocketbook.”

 

North Dakota 280

p. 16, “The two satchels stood on the sunny platform outside the waiting-room door.”

North Dakota 274

p. 16, “Traveling on the train cost money.”

p. 30, “She knew now what Pa meant when he spoke of the wonderful times they were living in. There ha never been such wonders in the whole history of the world, Pa said.  Now, in one morning, they had actually traveled a whole week’s journey.”

In the end, Laura, of course, decided it was a thrilling adventure, to the point of wishing her pa was a railroad man.

 

 

For further study about the wonders of the train world:

Northern Pacific Railway Museum

Great Northern Railway History

Friends of the Burlington Northern Railroad

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association

Central Pacific Railroad

Railroad Hall at the Smithsonian (pics)

Advertisements

What About Those Missing Years?

Shores of Silver Lake

 

As soon as we  cracked open the new Little House book, we had a few surprises. (click on links below to find sites to validate times, places and events)

 

Laura is now a teenager.  There are three missing years, since the Ingalls family only lived in their Plum Creek dugout from 1874-1876.

 

Between reading Shores on Silver Lake and doing research, we discovered some pain in those three years.

1. Ingalls family moved to Iowa and back. While there Pa helped run the Masters Hotel.  (See amazing  photos here. Really amazing photos.)

2. They had a son named Frederick who died. 

3. The family faced Scarlet Fever and Mary lost her sight.

4. Ma and Pa disagreed over moving west for several years.

 

As a wife and mom, my heart ached for Ma. Losing a child would be pain enough, but add in illness and poverty and I can only imagine how Ma was able to keep waking each morning. Some people air their pain like laundry on a clothesline, others hide it away.  But, it never goes away.  In one place I read, Ma was known to have claimed things would have turned out differently if only Frederick had lived. Laura loses a son, as does her daughter, Rose.  The family chooses to say very little about their pain, but we know it goes deep.

 

As a very young mom, I met a dear older woman who was visiting our fellowship and I asked if she had children.  The tears began flowing. She struggled for words to tell me about the death of one of her children.  Even though the death had occurred over 50 years ago, and she wasn’t bitter or angry at the Lord, she still missed that child.

 

My imagination and my experience in life fills in the blanks about these missing years.

 

 

I feel a little annoyed each time Pa decides to move them again, I long for them to settle.  This is the first time you get the idea that Ma actually put her foot down and kept it there for two years.

p. 3  “Pa did not like a country so old and worn out that the hunting was poor.  He wanted to go west.  For two years he had wanted to go west and take a homestead, but Ma did not want to leave the settled country. And there was no money.”

 

 

When a relative showed up offering him a job, Pa made a quick decision to pack the wagon and move to Dakota Territory.

p. 4 “Ma still did not want to go west.”

image

Docie had driven her wagon 196 miles to offer Pa a mouth-drooling salary of $50 a month to run her husband’s store. They have another 111 miles to go fro Minnesota to Dakota Territory.

Pa sold his entire farmstead for $200.  He has a chance to make $600 a year, enough to buy three farmsteads.  No wonder he didn’t wait very long to answer. 

p. 6 “I hope it’s for the best, Charles,” Ma replied, “But how –“

“Wait till I tell you!  I’ve got it all figured out,” Pa told her.  I’ll go on with Docia tomorrow morning.  You and the girls stay here till Mary gets well and strong, say a couple of months…you’ll all come out on the train.”

image

Ma lifted her foot and Pa left her alone with two small children, one teenager and a newly blind teenager. 

 

 

p. 7  “I am sure we will manage nicely with Laura and Carrie to help me.”

 

With amazing strength of spirit, Ma accepts more change,  loneliness and having to start over again.

 

Picture Perfect Laura

 

Laura Ingalls digs up her own dirt.

She  never portrayed herself as perfect, like some biographers. Those ugly moments of jealousy, hatred and anger were never glazed over, although sometimes justified.

She slapped, sulked, disobeyed and coveted her way through childhood, just like kids from all generations.

Her relationship with her Pa was interesting. She records a lot of disobedience, but not a lot of spanking, although that was the  threat she felt lurking over her head. Ma and Pa kept the kids in line and kept them alive, despite the dangers and temptations in all the various places they lived. Too bad Ma and Pa didn’t write a parenting book!

As a child I related to Laura and never considered her as a naughty child.  Reading through as a mother, I’ve marveled at Ma and Pa’s patience. I’ve wondered if they ever despaired about how she would turn out.   She was the clichéd handful!

We wanted to make Laura picture perfect for our Little House Dollhouse.

Christmas 047 - Copy

The miniatures that are just plain, paintable metal are much cheaper. (from the Dollhouse Cottage.)

 

Christmas 048

Two coats of gold paint with craft paint we had on hand.

 

Christmas 049

A postcard of the Ingalls family I bought somewhere along the line for educational purposes. Don’t ya’ have a stash of stuff ya’ just KNOW you’ll use someday?  We’ve had this on display all year with other vintage postcards.

 

Christmas 056

Beka photocopied the postcard,  traced around the frame, then cut the picture to fit in the frame, making sure it didn’t go all the way to edge, just to the middle of the frame.

I wanted a pic of Pa and Ma, but Pa and Laura were closest together, so that’s what we used.  The more I thought about it, the more appropriate this was.  I think Pa had a great part in helping the rambunctious Laura grow into the woman we’ve known and loved most of our lives.  He kept her from being a monster child, but never quenched her spirit.

 

Christmas 083

A piece was cut to perfect fit over the picture, to make it look like it was framed in glass.  I love laminating sheets!  They can be expensive, but I used to buy them at Wal-Mart for a reasonable price.  It is clearer than clear Contact paper, but easier than running to an office supply store to have something laminated.

Another piece the size of the whole frame was cut to stick the picture to the frame on the back.  That was Beka’s clever idea!  I love giving kids the freedom to do things their own way, sometimes their way is BETTER than our way. I hadn’t even thought about how we would actually stick the picture to the frame.

Christmas 061

Laura Ingalls –  the Picture Perfect version.

A Good Ol’ Fashioned Thrashing

 

On the Banks of Plum Creek

Chapter 8

Not only was Pa lucky enough to buy his dugout and a sowed field from a very clean, handsome Norwegian, Mr. Hanson, he works for another wonderful, good-looking Norwegian, Mr. Nelson. Pa retraces the history of their moves by recalling they lived with Swedes and Germans in Wisconsin, Indians in Kansas and now Norwegians in Minnesota.  But he magnanimously admits, “They’re good neighbours.” Oh, wasn’t that kind of him?  His next comment makes me wonder what he really thought about my people. He says to Ma, ”But I guess our kind of folks is pretty scarce.”  (p. 44) What did he mean by OUR kind of people?

Apparently, Caroline is Scottish, but with Dutch nobility. Charles had a grandmother from the famed Delano family, but I never heard of them until I read Wikipedia, and traced English family back to the Mayflower.  Oh, they were those kind of people.  But, how kind of them to consent to living with Norwegians.Oh, wait, is that why Laura insisted on the old English spellings in her books instead of the new American spellings published by Webster in 1828?

It’s now harvest time, 1874, and Pa can’t start his field until he’s cut Mr. Nelson’s wheat.  He cuts it by hand with a scythe, binds it in bundles and stacks it to dry in the sunshine.  Over and over he swung the blade, cut the wheat, tied it up and stacked it.

 

He worked so hard, he was too tired to fiddle.  For Pa, that’s tired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you watch this video of a teenage girl using a scythe, you’ll wonder why Pa was so tired.  After all, he was a pretty strong pioneer man.

 

Anyhoo, when Pa is done cutting, three men come with a threshing-machine. For a little girl who loves adventure, I can’t believe Laura only described this amazing occasion only by saying she heard “harsh machinery noises” and “when the sun rose chaff flew golden in the wind.” (p. 53.)  Wanna’ hear those noises?  Watch this video from an 1870 thresher. It only had two owners and is now a museum piece.

 

But, that’s it?  That’s all she has to say?  He Pa cuts the fields by hand and instead of thumping on the stalks of wheat by hand to separate the kernels of grain, he has a high tech piece of equipment that saves him days of work.  She wasn’t impressed, but I was.  I love farming.  I dug ya’ up some history and some family pics.

 

306103_3845353939605_493545704_n[1]

Here’s a pic from my cousin Dean’s family, also of good Norwegian blood.  His mom came from the Peterson family who homesteaded near Bisbee, ND.

 

You wanna see how these old steam threshers work?  Western MN Steam Threshers has their own YouTube channel.  Every year they have a Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, MN where you can ride an old steam train, and watch old tractors and threshers in action and watch other pioneer demonstrations. 

 

DSCN2237

It’s an annual Labor Day pilgrimage for many, including my cousin Blaine, who provided the great pictures. He also has that good Norwegian blood coursing through his veins.  He works hard and  keeps his house and yard clean, so I’m pretty sure Pa Ingalls wouldn’t mind having him for a neighbor. Wait, neighbour.

DSCN2239

People camp there in the primitive fields, listening to days of “harsh machinery noises.”

DSCN2240

The homesteaders were diligent to make history, these men and women are diligent in preserving history.

DSCN2244

 

Naughty, naughty Laura.  After the threshers are gone, there’s a huge pile of golden straw.  That’s the stuff left after you cut the grain off, in case ya’ don’t speak farmer.  If you scroll back up to see the old picture and notice the straw stack in the background, you’ll know why Laura was enticed.

Laura and Mary go to that huge pile and slide down over and over until “there was hardly any stack left in the middle of loose heaps of straw.” (p. 53)  Then Laura, like many sneaky kids I’ve known, went into the house and was very, very good.  I learned too late in life, when a child is being exceptionally good, it’s probably bad.  If they’re being very kind, helpful and waiting on you hand and foot, they might be atoning for sins you’ve yet to discover.  Pa fixes the stack, like a good Pa, probably remembering his own childhood shenanigans.

He sternly warns them to not slide down the hay stack again.

Laura obeys.

She just goes to smell the straw. Pa didn’t tell her not to smell.

Then, she climbs the straw.  Pa didn’t tell her not to climb.

She flies down the straw.

She bounces down the straw.

She rolls down the straw.

She even convinces Mary to join in the fun.  After all, Pa only forbid sliding down.

 

When Pa approached the girls after the second day of trampling down his hay stack, Laura describes his attitude as dreadful, stern and terrible.  He raises his voice.  We know that because Laura writes it in all caps.  “DID YOU SLIDE DOWN THE STRAW-STACK?”

According to her childish brain, Laura answers honestly.  “We did not slide, Pa. But we did roll down it.”

 

I was expecting Laura to get a big ol’ fashioned spanking.  She feared a spanking just for fidgeting on the Sabbath.  But this time, she was really, really, really naughty.

 

Instead of thrashing Laura and Mary for flattening what was left after threshing, Pa turns his back to the girls and quakes in the threshold.

 

The girls were thankful to not be throttled, so were thoroughly through with their hay stack thrills.

 

 

More Farming Research:

Southest Old Threshers’ Reunion

National Threshers Association

Midwest Old Threshers Reunion

Introduction to Pioneer Farming

Minnesota History of Agriculture and Farming

Stages of Wheat Growth  (Technical page, but scroll down for a chart with drawing of wheat at each stage.  Also a description of kernel dryness water, milk, soft dough, and hard dough stages.)

 

So, head out and get thrashing on your farming homework.

Lessons from Colored Beads

 

In Little House on the Prairie, Pa took Mary and Laura on a walk down the trail near their to the abandoned Indian camp.  The girls were delighted to explore, but I’m pretty sure Laura was pretending she was an Indian princess.

When they first settled in the area, It amazed me that apparently Pa didn’t know the trail was active.  Aren’t homesteaders supposed to know all that good stuff about tracking, footprints, and Indian trails? Maybe he just wanted the land, so he told the family it was old.  Maybe he didn’t know.  But, after living there awhile, the Indians had sadly  moved off their land, and Pa was free to explore the area.

They saw holes left by tent poles and charcoal remains of fire pits.  Pa read the tracks of large moccasins, small moccasins, bare toes, rabbits, birds and wolves for his two little girls. He had them examine the bones around the fire to determine that the women had cooked rabbit for dinner.  A homeschooling father in all his glory, turning an adventure into an education.

When Laura finds a blue bead, the educational moment ceased, and a treasure hunt began. Living in such simplicity, those beads were a prize. I wonder if Laura dreamed of that moment for years to come, the thrill of bending over to pick up yet another bit of brightly colored glass.  When they were through, Pa tied Laura’s beads in one corner of his handkerchief and Mary’s in another.  Since the girls rarely owned anything of their own, I loved Pa’s wisdom in keeping them separate.  At home they unwrapped them to show Ma.

Laura remembered, “The beads were even prettier than they had been in the Indian camp.” (p. 179)

What happened next I still have a hard time sorting through in my mind.  Mary, the Good Daughter, gives her beads to Baby Carrie.  Laura felt the pressure to be good and gives her treasure away, too. They strung all the beads together into a necklace for a baby. When the baby began pulling at the strand, Ma put it away in the trunk for when she grew up. For the rest of her life, Laura felt naughty for wanting those beads.

I don’t understand why Ma didn’t stress sharing, instead of just giving.  The girls had so little, and the beads brought no joy to the baby.  She deprived two girls of a joy that would have brightened their prairie life by giving a treasure to someone incapable of enjoying it.

The assignment  for the prairie primer was to make a beaded necklace. Like Ma, I’ve made some mistakes in parenting, micro-managing projects has been one of them.  A type A person, I like things done correctly, on schedule, and according to directions.  I like to tell them exactly how to do it.

It took me awhile to realize nurturing creativity is just as important as nurturing the ability to follow directions.

For this project, I said, “Make a beaded necklace.” I let Rebekah know what types of beads I had and the types of beading I could teach her.  I offered to run to the craft store if she wanted to learn something more complicated.

She went for the simple plastic pony beads and yarn.  I didn’t say anything.  Ya’ know, I sure don’t want her to write a book about her disappointing bead experience years from now.

 

pumpkin, grandparent dolls 179

I was  surprised  to see her book propped open in the tub of beads.  When I asked why, she said, “I only want to use the colors that Mary and Laura found.”

 

Yea, she totally owned that project.

 

pumpkin, grandparent dolls 180

She’s learning to multi-task, a necessary skill for a woman.

 

beka 010

 

It was beautiful, it was simple, and it was done according to her standards. I was happy she finished.  She had fun creating. Years from now, when she reads Little House on the Prairie with her kids, and they get to the part of Laura’s bad bead memories, I hope she speaks of her beaded necklace and her mother with fondness.

Susanna Wasn’t in a Gum Tree Canoe

 

 

The Ingalls are leaving Kansas at the end of “Little House on the Prairie”
and stopped on the lonely prairie to eat and sleep.

It had been a long, hard year
and they’ve lost a year out of their life,
their new home, and their food for the following year,
and are only leaving with a new mule with very long ears.

 

As usual, Pa brings peace and comfort
to his family by playing his violin.

 

Laura writes Pa’s words to
Oh, Susanna”

“I went to California
With my wash-pan on my knee,
And every time I thought of home,
I wished it wasn’t me.”

 

This is a version close to Pa’s version.

The quote by musician Truman Price on You Tube,

“This version of Oh Suzanna was made by gold miners on the way to California.
It was a hit song of 1849, more popular than Foster’s original from the year before.
I didn’t change any words. ‘I came from Salem City, my wash-pan on my knee…’ “

The words have evolved through time,
but the lyrical tune and the theme of love
still beats in American hearts.

 

 

I love me some Johnny Cash and
my husband loves him some James Taylor.

I had no idear they performed together.

 

It was equally as surprising to discover this early rock band
performed the song.

 

The longevity of Stephen Foster’s work,
influencing musicians from every genre and generation,
proves he is still the Father of American Music.

The Center for American Music at the University of Pittsburgh
provides a great biography and detailed Q&A about Foster.

 

But, what about that Gum Tree Canoe?

I thought I would be smart and BING gum tree canoe.
Yea, we don’t use the “G” word in our house.
Turns out if you accidentally type in “gumshoe canoe”
you really come up with nothing.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Even if you correctly type in
“what is a gum tree canoe” you still get

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

So, I got clever, ‘cuz at night when I’m really tired,
and I wanna’  launch a blog, get my laundry done,
and get enough sleep to look almost human the next day,
I can get clever.  Or desperate. You decide.

I looked up gum tree.
One site defined it as “a tree that produces gum.”
Like, DUH!
Gimme’ something I can really use.

Another site said gum trees
grow in the southwest states and can be up to 100 feet tall
and the trunk can be up to three feet wide.
In the olden days, people chewed the bark for gum.

OK.
Now I get it.

Tall, wide tree makes long, wide canoe.
And since we have Trident, Wrigleys and Bubble Yum,
we can leave the bark alone.
But, ya’ might wanna take a rabbit trail from the
gum tree canoe to  the history of chewing gum.
It will only waste about five minutes of your time.
Maybe ten if you’re a slow reader or
actually read every word, not just skim through
for the good stuff.

Now, I can go on with the music.

 

John Hartford plays this tune at the Grand Ol’ Opry. 

 

 

 

This is the Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band’s version.
They have an amazing website “American History through Music.”
Their list of the songs features many of the songs
played by Pa in the Little House on the Prairie books.
Besides, their educational resources are for
teachers and “homeschool parents.”
Wow.
They pay us homage.
Now ya’ gotta’ visit their site.

 

Gum Tree Canoe

chorus:

Singing row away, row o’er the waters so blue
Like a feather we’ll float in my Gum Tree Canoe
Singing row away, row o’er the waters so blue
Like a feather we’ll float in my Gum Tree Canoe

verses:

On the Tombigbee River so bright I was born
In a hut made of husks of the tall yellow corn
It was there I first met with my Julia so true
And I rowed her about in my Gum Tree Canoe

(chorus)
All day in the fields of soft cotton I’d hoe
I think of my Julia and sing as I go
Oh, I catch her a bird with a wing of true blue
And at night sail her ‘round in my Gum Tree Canoe

(chorus)
With my hands on the banjo and toe on the oar
I sing to the sound of the river’s soft roar
While the stars they look down on my Julia so true
And dance in her eyes in my Gum Tree Canoe

(chorus)
One night the stream bore us so far away
That we couldn’t come back, so we thought we’d just stay
Oh, we spied a tall ship with a flag of true blue
And it took us in tow in our Gum Tree Canoe

(chorus)

 

*****

Pa knew music could still the heart and give hope and peace.
As he spent years moving his family around
to places they were facing panthers, wolves, coyotes, loneliness,
fires, Indians, raging rivers and disease,
we see that what his gun couldn’t take care of,
his violin could.

Nearly150 years later,
these songs of tradition and nostalgia,
bring joy, comfort
and toe-tapping enthusiasm to the modern generation.

Hand Over Hand Survival

Little House on the Prairie 001

Chapter 12

*****

Born with two older brothers and one younger brother, I was destined to be a tomboy. The “Little Girls” as we called them, the last two siblings born, were close in age and heart.

From an early age, I learned to throw like a boy, wrestle like a boy and work like a boy. OK, I wasn’t as tough as I thought I was, but I did get sent to the principal’s office once for beating up a bully on the playground.

I also threw a bully off the bus in high school for tormenting my little sisters. He coulda’ whooped my behind, but he had a momma’ who woulda’ whopped his,
so he conceded and the war was over.

I definitely related to Laura way better than Mary
as a child, and even more as an adult.

Whenever I read history about settling the west I was convinced I was born in the wrong generation. That is, until we spent one day cooking over an open fire, I kinda’ changed my mind in a hurry.

Women had it rough back then, working hard in SKIRTS. Long skirts with ridiculous undergarments. I know I would have been the rebel who wore
her brother’s clothes.

However, I still like to imagine life back then, and have loved the hands-on curriculum we’re using this year.


In Chapter 12 of Little House on the Prairie, Mr. Scott is passed out in the bottom of the well they’re digging because he didn’t test the air for poisonous gas.
Silly man.

It’s the first time we see Ma reacting strongly to danger.  She’s usually calm and collected.

“I don’t want a well,” Ma sobbed.  “It isn’t worth it. I won’t have you running such risks!”
(p. 157)

She was willing to go without water rather than risk her husband’s life.

 

Pa went down to rescue the neighbor anyway and had to climb out

hand

over

hand

with the rope while holding his breath.

Our assignment:  try to climb hand over hand.

See, I told ya’ the curriculum was hands-on!


We headed over to the neighbor’s swing set to test our skills. Like the Ingalls,  we have good neighbors.

sewing 082
All dressed up in prairie finery, Beka tried.

sewing 087

Beka’s climbing would be more proficient, I’m sure, if someone was dying, not dying of laughter. 

sewing 089

Beka’s friend, Amanda, partner in pioneer adventures for the day, also was a good sport about rope climbing.

 

sewing 094 - Copy

Since I won several blue ribbons for rope climbing, back in elementary school, folks, not the Olympics, I had to try.

Afterall, I’m almost 50 and always feel like I have something to prove.

Remembering how quickly I used to climb to the top of the gym, I attacked the rope with gusto.

At the top, I would sway  above the mat, watching the scared kids below, their eyes sparkling in admiration and bask in my moment of glory. 

sewing 094

I’ve definitely lost my touch.

Really lost my touch. I was swaying, and eyes were sparkling, but with hysterical laughter, not admiration. I proved that at least I have my memories.

But, if someone I loved, or someone I needed for survival, like one of my only neighbors, were dying at the bottom of a well, would I be able to save them?

The reality of what the Ingalls family lived through touches me more as an adult than it did as a child.

As a child, I was filled with dreams of fun and adventure.
As an adult, I see how their lives were constantly in danger.

Hand over hand, they clung to the rope of survival, and always managed to pull themselves to safety.

I Can Clean an Oven and a Muzzleloader

 

  Laura does a great job of describing prairie life, but sometimes it can be a little confusing
because we aren’t familiar with the terms and the tools.

I can clean an oven, but I’ve never had to clean a gun.

 

   “After the bullets were made, pa would take his gun down from the wall and clean it.  Out in the snowy woods all day, it might have gathered a little dampness, and inside of the barrel was sure to be dirty from powder smoke.

     So Pa would take the ramrod from its place under the gun barrel, and fastened a piece of clean cloth on its end.  He stood the butt of the gun in a pan on the hearth and poured boiling water from the tea kettle into the gun barrel.  Then quickly he dropped the ramrod in and rubbed it up and down, up and down, while the hot water blackened with powder smoke spurted out through the little hole on which the cap was placed when the gun was loaded.

      Pa kept pouring in more water and washing the gun barrel with the cloth on the ramrod until the water ran out clear.  Then the gun was clean.  The water must always be boiling, so that the heated steel would dry instantly.”

  (Little House in the Big Woods, p. 46-47)

 

I could tell Rebekah was a little confused about the process. 
I started by copying off the beautiful Garth  Williams illustration on p. 50.

Making Bullets

  She labeled each item on the picture while I read the text aloud. 

 

Of course, we turned to the internet and found an amazing site,
Today’s Muzzleloader Hunter in Alaska.
You will find everything you need to know about hunter’s safety,
muzzleloader history, shooting skills and field dressing.
There’s even a test,
’cuz I know all you homeschooling mommies LOVE to give tests!

 

Since Pa always had to shoot all his game with one shot,
you’ll like the
diagram that shows the vital organs and explains
how to keep your hunting ethical with a clean kill.
It could save a life, too, like yours.

 

 

gun_parts_muzzleloader_flintlock

It made it so much easier to understand by having the parts labeled.

 

 

muzzleloader_cleaning_01

I was given gracious permission by Mary Winkler
of
Kalkomey Enterprises, Inc. to use their graphics.
Please do not redistribute without asking her permission.

 

 

Even if we don’t have to clean guns in our homes,
the emphasis on caring for tools is a great example.
Pa was disciplined and diligent in his care for his
belongings and his family.

 

And now, thanks to Laura and my resources,
I can clean a muzzleloader,
as well as an oven.

Hark! Who Goes There?

You wouldn’t have to ask that question if you could identify tracks.

But, lemme’ take you the long way around to that lesson.

Over Labor Day, hubby and I took Rebekah on a hike in the mountains.

Labor Day Weekend 073

OK, in reality, we spent a lot of time in the car oohing and aahing over the mountains

 

Labor Day Weekend 063

and eating snacks from a roadside gas station
that cost way too much.

 

Labor Day Weekend 108

But, we did get out and hike for a little while.

Nice groomed trails.
Does this really count as hiking?

Labor Day Weekend 086

Yea, it does.

We also had an unexpected Science lesson.
I love unintentional learning!

Pops and Rebekah wanted to hike around the lake.
I wanted to sit. I was tired.  Seriously.
I also wanted to take pics while sitting.

They enjoyed some Father-Daughter time.

Labor Day Weekend 121

When they came back, Rebekah was able to identify the split hoof tracks from an elk.

 

Labor Day Weekend 123

I could easily identify the track from the Great American North-Faced Hiker.

 

Pa and Laura had a similar experience as they drove their sled through the Big Woods to Grandpa’s.

“Pa showed Laura the tracks of the wild creatures in the snow
at the sides of the road.
The small, leaping tracks of cottontail rabbits, the tiny tracks of field mice,
and the feather-stitching tracks of snowbirds.
There were larger tracks, like dogs’ tracks, where foxes had run, and there were the tracks of a deer that had bounded away into the woods.”

(Little House in the Big Woods, p. 132-133) 

Pioneer families needed to identify animal tracks for their survival.
Remember Aunt Eliza’s tale of her dog Prince not letting her out of the cabin?
Uncle Peter found huge panther tracks around their homestead.

 

Creation Science

I pulled out my favorite Science Curriculum, Considering God’s Creation,
and used several animal tracks activities.

It is more fun for me to cut and paste than to just read and answer questions,
so I am a huge fan of this curriculum.  I’ve used it for all my kids.

It easily can be used as your primary Science book
or to supplement others.
Most kids think it is so fun, they don’t know it’s school.

SSHHHH! Don’t tell them!


Some activities, like on Creation, would be wonderful for
Sunday school, VBS or Kids Bible Clubs.

 

*****

Here is a tracking guide you can print out and take with you
if you want to investigate your neighborhood,
that is, in case you have any wildlife other than
the Great American North-Faced Hiker.

 

This is a more detailed chart of animal tracks chart you can buy.

 

This blog has a fun activity to play with a peanut butter mixture
to leave your own tracks, then eat them.

*****

Now, go test your skills
and see if you can identify more species than Momma Mindy.

 

Maple Syrup Taste Test

I grew up in a family that loved ice cream.

We ate a LOT of ice cream.
My mom wondered why the ice cream went so quickly,
until she caught my Dad in action.

Apparently, he left a spoon in the ice-cream bucket.
When he went down to stoke the fire,
we survived North Dakota winters heating with
a wood-burning stove,
he would have a few bites.
(I think he deserved them, don’t you?)

Anyway, we grew up on those huge buckets
of ice cream that were about $2.
We usually bought vanilla, so we could add toppings,
but on rare occasion had Neapolitan.

As an adult, I was offered Breyer’s vanilla ice cream
for the first time, and I didn’t like it.

It didn’t taste like ice cream to me.

We had the same experience with Rebekah and  maple syrup.

Enjoying Fall Outside 001
The Ingalls family had the thrill of making real maple syrup,
tapping the trees and everything.

Not a possibility in my neighborhood,
so I drove to Trader Joe’s and bought real Maple Syrup and waffles.
Traffic was bad, it took me over 10 minutes to go 2.3 miles.

Life as a city pioneer can be grueling.

We didn’t see a bear, but almost saw an accident.

Back to the syrup.
She cut the waffle in half,
and tried each kind of syrup.

Enjoying Fall Outside 005

She ate the Mrs. Butterworth’s first.

I grew up with the Maple flavored kind we made from scratch.
Store bought, like Mrs. Butterworth’s,  was a luxury.

Enjoying Fall Outside 006
Rebekah has grown up with store-bought imitation syrup,
so real maple syrup should be a luxury.

Enjoying Fall Outside 007
Does she like it?????

Pondering, while letting the natural goodness swirl around her tongue.

Enjoying Fall Outside 008
The verdict is in.

If I ever find a Maple tree flowing with syrup,
I officially know I won’t have to stop and make syrup for my family.

However, if I find a sale on imitation syrup,
I better stock up.